Task Force on General Education
Notes from the Meeting of December 1, 2000
The Chair reviewed GE programs at UC Berkeley and one proposal for this campus. The Berkeley program expresses the campus values and the courses are truly designed to be GE. Ursula Mahlendorf suggested that some signature be developed for our GE program much like the international studies requirement of Berkeley. An option would be a required course in environmental studies. Their program also cuts down on the smorgasbord effect.
It is time to speak to the Deans of the divisions so that we can get the commitment of the college. Engineering’s requirements should also be kept in mind at this time. The group needs to start talking to departments about their concerns about any potential changes as well.
The Ethnicity Requirement was also discussed. The revised requirement maintains the emphasis on the US experience. If there is trouble in getting approval for the requirement alone, it may be best to wait and make it part of the global change.
The issue of interdisciplinary courses was raised by the Task Force. The chair pointed out that "interdisciplinary" should probably not be a separate category and should be made part of the mission statement of the program. Students shouldn’t be told courses should be interdisciplinary, instructors should. The areas should be defined in terms of skills and literacy and not the way they are now.
The group also discussed the Area E1 (Civilization and Thought) requirement. Tom Carlson felt that it was necessary for students to have this traditional knowledge that they seemed to lack and are fundamental to learning. This is more important especially with increased globalization. Harold Marcuse conveyed that even if students take these courses, they do not necessarily learn about their roots. The best way to give them an appreciation of these roots is to have the faculty choose specific topics geared toward specific audiences. This way, students would then be given the choice of survey or specific courses. The catch-all survey course is not the most effective method.
Loy Lytle, Director of Summer Sessions, presented to the Task Force various concerns regarding summer enrollment and the effect on the GE program. About half of the courses offered during summer fulfill a GE requirement and most upperclassmen use summer to leave faster. The group expressed concern about summer having different standards in terms of faculty involvement. It was pointed out that about 20% of courses conducted in the summer are taught by permanent faculty. During FWS, 22% of lower division, 64% of upper division, and 89% of graduate courses are taught by permanent faculty. 100% participation can’t be expected. The Enrollment Task Force has made several recommendations regarding scheduling, faculty incentives, student incentives, and other issues. Any recommendations from other committees would also be helpful.